How the Cadillac 1988 Voyage Concept Show Car evolved
by Bruce Brooks
By late 1984 I had transferred from Buick Exterior Design Studio No.1 to Advanced Exterior Design Studio No.4 to replace John O’Brien who had retired. John was the assistant to Al Harbour who was the chief clay modeler in that studio. Al had then retired in late 1985. Don Brougham transferred from Chevrolet Exterior Design Studio No.3 and was promoted to replace Al.
In mid-1986, prior to Irv Rybicki’s retirement in October as Vice President of GM Design, the Advanced Design Studios had a combined showing of 3/8 scale models for him. George Moon was the director of the Advanced Exterior Design Studios and Bernie Smith was his assistant. Our Adv. Ext. Design Studio No. 4 had contributed a scale model designed by Jerry Brochstein for that show. Chuck Jordan was GM Design Director at that time and had viewed all of those models shown. After Chuck had taken over from Irv Rybicki to become Vice President of GM Design, he started to pursue the possibilities of the further development of the model design that he had seen.
Chuck had then asked Cadillac General Manager, John Grettenberger to view the models. John asked Dick Ruzzin, who was the Chief Designer of Cadillac Exterior Design Studio, to view the models with him to get Dick’s opinion. John and Dick both agreed on one model design they liked best. It was also the design Chuck Jordan had preferred, so with that he and John Grettenberger had some discussion to possibly use that design in a future Cadillac concept show car.
To exercise his design decision options, in early January of 1987 Chuck went out to the GM Advanced Concepts Center in Newbury Park, California to start a project for their studio to design a luxury car that they thought would meet the requirements for the California market. After a month he went back to see the results. Chuck had then mentioned their exterior design was good, but not as good as the one designed at the Warren, Michigan studio. He however said their interior design was a knockout. In a conversation I had with John Shettler he mentioned that Robert McCann had designed the interior at ACC. Their exterior model was designed by Jim Bieck.
Prior to this, in the mid to late 1980s, GM was under a lot of press and media criticism for producing too many look-alike cars. In particular there was an article in the August 22, 1983 issue of Fortune magazine that made that very apparent.
In early February of 1987 Chuck Jordan came to Adv. Ext. Design Studio No.4 and asked our chief designer Allen Young for a photo of the scale model we had done back in mid-1986. That photo was of the scale model Jerry Brochstein had designed. Chuck had made the same request for photos from the other Adv. Ext. Design Studios of their scale models. George Moon had retired and Jerry Palmer was promoted by Chuck to be the director of all of the Adv. Ext. Design Studios with Bernie Smith as Jerry’s assistant. Chuck wanted to use the photos for a presentation GM CEO Roger Smith was going to give to press and media people. Roger Smith wanted to show that GM design studios were designing distinctively different car models for possible future production. Apparently at an earlier rehearsal for this presentation, Roger Smith had conferred with John Grettenberger and Chuck Jordan that they were in agreement for Roger to make an announcement that a particular model being viewed would become the next Cadillac concept show car. I’m just not sure who or when this project was given the name Voyage. It was probably made by someone at Cadillac Division at a later date.
As it turned out, that car being viewed was the one Jerry Brochstein had designed. So as soon as Chuck got back to work he walked into our Adv. Ext. Design Studio No.4 and announced “Brochstein, where is that scale model you designed? That’s your studio’s new full size Cadillac show car project.” That became the Cadillac Voyage concept show car. The original intention was to have a V12 engine but it was determined there was not enough development time to have one completed in time to use so a V8 was to be installed instead.
We started in early February of 1987 with a full size clay model we were working on at that time that had to have a wheel base dimension change and an overall length increase to the armature before we could proceed with the clay surface design changes. Don Brougham was the chief clay modeler and I was his assistant. Ivan Koop, Bob Greening and Frank De Dona were the other clay modelers assigned to the studio. There were a number of occasions when we needed modeling help during straight time and overtime when we were able to have Advanced Design Studio No.3 loan Bill Dineen to our studio to help out.
By the end of February we had gone through a number of design changes with Di-Noc reviews and photos taken outdoors in the patio. We had a time frame to do the approved released clay surfaces by June. We had to move the clay model out of the studio and ship it to Triad fabrication in Troy, MI. The model was set up there where we completed our final surface clay highlighting work.
Triad was contracted by Cadillac to produce the show car with design direction by GM Design Staff and the component systems directed by Cadillac. Sheri Perelli was Cadillac’s marketing manager and Dick Fancy was the Design Staff project manager. Bill Rohlfing was a Triad employee, contracted by Cadillac, to be the project manager.
Triad had a deadline to have the car completed by the first car show at the GM “Teamwork and Technology—For Today and Tomorrow” showing at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel which was the sight of the first GM Motorama exhibition in 1949. Triad shipped the car before Christmas of 1987 and the show opened on January 5, 1988. A late design change was made for a different grill pattern but the new one was not completed in time to be install before the car shipped. To make sure the new one could be installed at the show, plans were made for Jerry Brochstein to hand carry the grill, wrapped in brown paper, with him to board his flight to New York. The grill was placed in an extra seat purchased next to him. This was to insure that there would no possibility of damage possible had the grille been checked through luggage. Jerry also hand carried the grill to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and delivered it to Bill Rohlfing who made arrangements to have it installed at the show just before it opened. Other show models displayed for the first time were the Chevrolet Venture, Pontiac Banshee, Buick Lucerne and GMC Centaur Truck.
The Voyage interior clay modeling was done at Triad with the interior design information sent from ACC in California. John Shettler was the director of the Advanced Interior Design Studios and had a major influence on the interior design process. Cathy Wagner was the lead GM Design Staff interior designer for the project at Triad with Rohan Saparamadu making some design contributions with the adaptation of the ACC interior design of Robert McCann’s. Our studio Chief Engineer was Tom Lauer and the Technical Stylist was Patrica Mastroianni (AKA, Tish Mastro).
In 1989 a very nice small scale model of the Voyage was made in the Design Staff UAW shops that demonstrates the craftsmanship and talent of the people that worked there. The original clay scale model was done by Charlie Nittis who was a very talented clay modeler that worked in Advanced Vehicle Concepts Studio. From that model the shops were able to make casts and then fabricate all of the small parts to assemble a complete an exact replica of the full size show model. It was complete with a see through upper and interior. Robert Badger in the metal shop supervised the build of the model.
Sketch and full-size renderings by Jerry Brockstein.